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Omicron variant fears after 61 travellers from South Africa test positive for Covid as Europe warned of ‘very high risk’


DOZENS of passengers who arrived in Amsterdam from South Africa yesterday have tested positive for Covid – amid fears over a new mutant super-strain.

Dutch authorities say 61 people who flew in on two flights are infected with the deadly bug.

Dozens of passengers aboard flights from South Africa to Amsterdam have tested positive for Covid

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Dozens of passengers aboard flights from South Africa to Amsterdam have tested positive for CovidCredit: AP
The Red Cross took those infected into quarantine last night

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The Red Cross took those infected into quarantine last nightCredit: EPA

They were among 600 passengers to arrive at Schiphol Airport on two KLM flights on Friday.

All of those on the planes were tested for coronavirus.

Further testing is now under way to find out if those infected are suffering with the Omicron variant – believed by experts to be the “worst variant ever”.

Health chiefs said: “Travellers with a positive test result will be placed in isolation at a hotel at or near Schiphol.

“Of the positive test results, we are researching as quickly as possible whether they are the new variant of concern, now named ‘Omicron’.”

The Dutch government banned all air travel from southern Africa early on Friday.

However, health minister Hugo de Jonge said passengers already en route to the Netherlands would be allowed into the country after undergoing testing and quarantine.

Passengers on the two KLM flights, from Cape Town and Johannesburg, said they were kept waiting on the tarmac for hours.

“Vigorous applause because there is a BUS that has come to take us … somewhere,” tweeted New York Times journalist Stephanie Nolen, a passenger on the flight from Johannesburg who later said she had tested negative.

“Bus to a hall to a huge queue. I can see Covid testers in bright blue PPE far on the distance. Still no snacks for the sad babies,” she added in a second tweet.

FEARS OVER SUPER-STRAIN

Yesterday, video emerged of travellers being told they couldn’t get off a plane in Amsterdam after the first European case was confirmed in Belgium.

They were finally allowed off the jet after being tested and leaving their details with contact tracers.

The new mutation poses a “high to very high” risk to Europe, EU health chiefs have warned.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control says there’s “considerable uncertainty related to the transmissibility, vaccine effectiveness, risk for reinfections and other properties of the Omicron variant.”

The strain has officially been named a “variant of concern” by the WHO.

And in the UK, a hunt has begun for hundreds of passengers who have recently arrived from South Africa.

Sajid Javid urged anyone who has arrived in the country from South Africa in recent days to take a PCR test as quickly as possible.

Hundreds of people queued for Covid tests after flying into Schiphol yesterday

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Hundreds of people queued for Covid tests after flying into Schiphol yesterdayCredit: Reuters
Fears Covid super-strain Omicron is already in UK as 1st case confirmed in Europe and passengers banned from leaving plane





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